Directors & Mentors


Founder & Registrar

Sandra has been a dance educator for over 55 years. She began her training, at the age of seven, in Melrose at the E. Virginia Sawyer School of Ballet where she later became an assistant teacher. Mrs. McNaught attended Melrose public schools and was president of Melrose High School's Dance Club. Upon graduation, she attended the Boston Conservatory as a dance major. Mrs. McNaught has studied and taught at several ballet schools in the Boston area and is a gold pin member of the Dance Teacher’s Club of Boston associated with the American Society of Dance.


In 1971, she founded  Northeast School of Ballet (formally Sandra Marie’s School of Ballet) and along with her daughter and co-director, Denise Cecere, has been committed to maintaining high standards in dance education. Both McNaught and Cecere co-founded Northeast Youth Ballet, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for young children and playing an active role in the cultural life of the communities they serve. 

Mrs. McNaught feels privileged to share her love of dance with NSB’s next generation of dancers.


Artistic Director

Denise brings her life's experience to Northeast Youth Ballet. Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, Cecere began her dance training under the direction of her mother, Sandra McNaught, at the Northeast School of Ballet. Later she became a scholarship student at the Boston Repertory Ballet, under the direction of Samuel Kurkjian, Boston Ballet, under the direction of E. Virginia Williams and Violette Verdy, and the School of American Ballet, under the direction of George Balanchine. She performed with Boston Ballet, Ballet Theater of Boston, and North Star Ballet in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her principal roles include The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Flower Festival, many neo-classical, and contemporary works. Her guest appearances have taken her internationally. In 1991 Cecere was a participant in Japan’s 1st International Choreographer’s Competition. 


In 1996 Cecere founded Northeast Youth Ballet. As Artistic Director, she is committed to the cultural development of future generations. It is her mission to educate, inspire, and create opportunities for young aspiring dancers. Cecere has endeavored to provide programs and performances designed specifically for children. NYB has a repertoire of classical, neoclassical, contemporary and modern works. Cecere has choreographed over 35 ballets for the young company and has invited award-winning choreographers to share their work with the school and company. Her collaboration with Boston Musica Viva, under the direction of Richard Pittman, has produced many full-length ballets including “A Boston Cinderella”, “Three Little Pigs”, “Ma Goose”, "The Wrong Child", "Druddigon" and “Paul Revere’s Ride” by contemporary composers. For the past 25 years, Cecere has continued to display the young company’s diversity both at home and abroad.


Cecere is currently director of the Northeast School of Ballet, the official training school of the Northeast Youth Ballet, where she has been teaching ballet technique for over 30 years. Her students have gone on to perform, teach, and choreograph for world-class dance organizations.


Assistant Director of The Conservatory at NSB

Joseph Jefferies is Assistant Director to NSB’s Conservatory Program.  He has served as director of Portland Ballet Summer Dance Program and has taught master classes and workshops at ballet schools across the country. Mr Jefferies is an award-winning choreographer creating over 30 works for companies including Ballet Memphis, Miami City Ballet, Peoria Ballet, Ballet Trockadero, Harid Conservatory, Ballet Yuma, Walnut Hill School for the Arts and Northeast Youth Ballet. He has won the RDA Emerging Choreographer scholarship twice and had his work selected and performed for New York City’s Ballet Builders Showcase and for the RDA National Convention in Montreal, Canada.


As a professional dancer Joseph was a member of Ballet Memphis dancing the lead roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia and Cinderella. As a member of Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo he toured the world performing in over 25 different countries. Mr Jefferies currently is on faculty at Northeast School of Ballet and Guest Faculty at Chautauqua Dance Institute.


Resident Guest Artist & Coach to The Conservatory at NSB

Born in France, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux joined the Paris Opera Ballet at age 14 and was named Danseur Etoile at 21. He has danced with the Bolshoi and Kirov Ballets and in 1970 became a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. In 1977, Bonnefoux joined the faculty of the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet, and began to realize his lifelong ambition of training young dancers. His final performance was in 1980, after which time, he dedicated himself to work as an artistic director, choreographer, and teacher.


Bonnefoux’s choreography includes works commissioned by the New York City Ballet, The Lincoln Center Institute, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company, and the Pennsylvania Ballet. Bonnefoux has served as choreographer and ballet master for the Pittsburgh Ballet, as Chairman and Artistic Director of the Ballet Department in the School of Music at Indiana University. He has served as the President of the Jury at the Prix de Lausanne (2005 and 2007). He directed the Charlotte Ballet and School of Charlotte Ballet in 1996 where he served as the President until 2016. Bonnefoux has been the Artistic Director of the Chautauqua’s Summer Dance program since 1983 and actively coaches the next generation of dancers. 


Academic Mentor

Ms. Jenkins’ passion for teaching developed during her college years at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts where she began volunteering with young students in a local school and held a part-time job as an SAT tutor for high school students. She went on to complete her M.Ed. in Language and Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2004 and began teaching middle school Reading and English Language Arts.


Ms. Jenkins has been working as a private tutor for middle and high school students in recent years in order for her to have a more flexible schedule and spend more time at home with her young daughters. As an experienced teacher and tutor, Ms. Jenkins’ ability to build strong relationships with her students and families with whom she work’s with is truly beneficial to the young dancers at the conservatory. She believes all students can and will learn when they are prepared with the appropriate tools and confidence to take control of their academic success. With clear communication and open conversations, she finds it inspiring to see students advocate for themselves as learners and meet their goals. She enjoys mentoring dedicated students like those participating in the conservatory program, and find this work extremely rewarding.

Faculty at The Conservatory at NSB:

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux (Ballet)

Denise Cerere (Ballet)

Lorraine Chapman (Ballet)

Ievgeniia (Jenya) Didenko (Ballroom)

Andrea Fanikos (Hip Hop)

Jodi Fitzgerald (Cross-training, Pilates)

Joseph Jefferies (Ballet, Yoga)

Jeremy Ruth Howes (Ballet, Contemporary)

Erika Lambe (Ballet)

Rhonda Miller (Ballet)

Brian McGinnis (Modern)

Caitlin O'Connor Pesce (Ballet)

Kathy Stark (Ballet)

Carmela Tomeny (Ballet)


See full bios here